Critical permits granted and rebranding: Katahdin Salmon moves on

In addition to announcing these milestones, the Maine-based RAS salmon project has already set the construction start date for summer 2025.
View of the Katahdin Salmon site in Millinocket, Maine. The RAS salmon farm now has all priority permits to begin construction.

View of the Katahdin Salmon site in Millinocket, Maine. The RAS salmon farm now has all priority permits to begin construction.

Photo: Katahdin Salmon LinkedIn page.

"The company has now obtained all the critical permits it has applied for." Katahdin Salmon thus announced that its discharge-, aquaculture-, and VRAP- permits are granted and final, and it is ready to move on. Maine-based RAS salmon project now enters a new phase that also brings a rebranding to be launched next week.

As the remaining permitting/permit amendments - all of them low risk - arrive, in the coming months the company will move through detailed design work, remediation, and pre-construction planning to allow construction on the site to begin in the summer season of 2025.

Permits were the top priority in the initial phase of the project

After conducting the last testing of the lagoon, Katahdin Salmon said in March it was on track to start construction of the facility next spring. Although it will be delayed minimally in the end - until the summer of 2025, as mentioned - the company is in luck after obtaining all the high-priority permits it needed in record time.

The final discharge permit (MEPDES) was issued in early April, but it is now that the appeal period has been finally closed with no challenges to the final permit filed. This is in addition to the also final Aquaculture License that the Department of Marine Resources issued in April of this year.

With them, the company has passed a milestone that has been its top priority throughout the initial phase of the project. It is no coincidence that appeals against discharge permits have been one of the main challenges for projects in this industry in the United States, even causing delays of several years.

"We have now obtained the critical permits that significantly de-risk the company so we can proceed with the more capital-intensive detailed design and site-preparation activities," said Marianne Naess, CEO of Katahdin Salmon.

Moreover, the company and its development partner 'Our Katahdin' received approval from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in December of last year to conduct land remediation activities. The VRAP (Voluntary Response Action Program) allows properties to be remediated according to a plan approved by the EPA/DEP, in exchange for protections from Department enforcement actions.

"The remediation involves emptying the large man-made lagoon we are building inside. Extensive testing has confirmed there is no contamination of concern present," Naess explained. A request for proposals for the remediation was issued last month and contractors from around the country have shown interest in the project. It is expected the contractor will be selected in the next few months and work can begin later this summer.

Since the site permits were grandfathered and the project is being developed on an existing man-made structure, the remaining permitting/permit amendments are low risk and will be handled in conjunction with the work as the company moves forward with the RAS and civil designs.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Virtual view of Katahdin Salmon's project in Millinocket, Maine. </p></div>

Virtual view of Katahdin Salmon's project in Millinocket, Maine.

Photo: Katahdin Salmon.

New brand to represent the company's vision, ambitions, and future direction

Precisely the site's existing infrastructure, qualities and design optimization have provided the company with direct savings of USD 60-80 million (EUR 55.2-73.6 million) compared to most other sites for similar facilities. As of today, the company's CAPEX estimate is USD 270 million (EUR 248.4 million) with 2024 inflation updates.

However, granted permits and controlled CAPEX are not the only developments in the Maine-based RAS salmon project. Founded by Xcelerate Aqua, Katahdin Salmon says that - based on the results of another company in its mother company's portfolio – they have seen great growth and performance.

"We have seen outstanding results on our salmon performance. Extremely low mortalities, no health issues, and the largest fish are now approaching 2,5 kilograms," said Co-founder & Chair of Katahdin Salmon, Erik Heim. "Fish welfare and effective biological risk mitigation are our cornerstones in delivering on biomass targets and financial outcomes," he added.

Therefore, the future RAS salmon producer believes now is the right time to move on even with branding. "Katahdin Salmon has been a good name for the initial development phases. Now that the company is entering into a new phase, it is the right time to transition to a name that reflects the developments of the company and the way forward," it says in a release.

The new brand, which will be launched next week, will be scalable for future locations and reflect its ambition to expand to other places in North America. As its CEO, Marianne Naess told WeAreAquaculture in an exclusive interview, the Katahdin Salmon project in Millinocket is a role model.

The Millinocket facility has a modular design that can be replicated at other sites and thus, instead of building one 30,000 or 50,000-metric-ton facility, build multiple 10,000-metric-ton facilities, making it easier to locate sites and integrate them into communities.

According to the release, the new brand will reflect those ties to the community and its history, while representing the company's vision, ambitions, and future direction: producing high-quality salmon in areas with access to plenty of clean and cold water in the Northern USA.

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